The Manchester International returned after a hiatus in 2020, with Birmingham athletes represented in five different teams on the day, as well as a number of strongly performing guests.
The first timetabled event saw incoming BUAC athlete Hannah Barnden secure a bronze in the junior match, as she turned out for the England team in the javelin.
A consistent series in difficult conditions saw a perfectly round 40.00 as the best throw for the Derby athlete.
Mixed 5000 Race Walk
First track event of the day was the combined men's and women's race walk, where Tash Mundell represented the National Athletics League team in a kit not too dissimilar to her new home of Thames Valley.
As a late draftee to the event, despite receiving some last-minute tips pre-race from multiple British record holder Bethan Davies, Mundell was disqualified after 3 kilometres of racing, despite an impressive showing in her first time walking.
Men's 400 Hurdles
The next BUAC representation in the programme was from another member of Thames Valley in the form of alumnus Chris McAlister*. In a season perhaps tinged with disappointment after losing out on Olympic selection, the sub-50 man ran 49.65 for the win and the gold medal, as part of the England team.
The UK #1 took a commanding lead down the back straight, and finished over a second and a half clear of the rest of the field, winning as emphatically as he did to become English Champion exactly a month prior.
The weather failed to produce as impressive a performance as those on the track, which McAlister acknowledged in a post-race interview:
It's an affirmation of the shape I'm in to get a good time like that in a bit of grim British weather in the summertime. I love it when the sun's out, but it's good to know that I can do it on a day like today. Chris McAlister
Women's U20 400 Hurdles
Following the senior men over the hurdles were the junior women, with Orla Brennan making a guest appearance.
In a season in which the Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow athlete has seen more action at the flat 400 metre distance than over barriers, Brennan was just two-tenths outside her season's best, with 62.39 giving her third place on the day.
Tait found herself the wrong side of a split in the field at the 10 minute mark, as Thompson kicked on in a lead pack of seven. That seven soon became six, and as the race wound up in the final two laps, Thomson sat in fourth, remaining in the position as the athletes crossed the line for a time of 16:13.51. Behind, Tait ran 16:53.32 for a three second PB.
Men's Triple Jump
Shortly after Tait and Thompson finished their work on the track, a duo were in action in the field. England U20 silver medallist Josh Woods and the incoming Joshua Knox (R) went in the triple jump, with Knox representing a somewhat sparse Northern Irish team.
Rainy but still conditions greeted the athletes, and Woods leapt to a 14.89 (0.0) on his first attempt to win the junior match. 13.49 (0.0) was the best of a consistent series for Knox, coming 4th with a season's best, despite being some way down on his 13.98i PB from early 2020.
Brett Rushman is at the tail end of a season containing new personal bests at the shorter 1500 and 3000 distances, and capped it off with a call up to the England junior squad for the Manchester International, lining up alongside fellow 1st year Tomer Tarragano, appearing as a guest in the 5000 metres.
In a fairly true-run race, there were PBs to go around, as Rushman shaved a casual 3.5 minutes from his previous (perhaps unrepresentative) track 5000 best, finishing with a silver in the junior match and a time of 14:27.51. Tarragano's previous best was a slightly more honest 15:13.81 from becoming Sussex champion in 2019, but he still managed to chop nearly a minute from that, running 14:24.81.
Women's 3000 Steeplechase
In what might not come as much of a surprise to those in the know, the women's steeplechase featured a majority of Birmingham-linked athletes, with three of the four athletes racing having a connection to the university.
In a somewhat Dickensian twist on the race, the 'chase featured the ghosts of BUAC Past, BUAC Present, and BUAC Future, as recent alum Kate Seary*, current student Maisie Grice and incoming fresher Martha Collings (R) all earnt national call ups.
Collings was a sure-fire gold medallist in the junior event, as the only athlete competing, but was good value for her England vest, producing an 18 second PB in her second time over the distance, for 10:50.01.
After the NAL representative fell away, it was left to Wales' Seary, and Grice representing England, to battle it out for the win. Despite the disadvantage of a barrier in the home straight that appeared to be set at the men's height in the early laps, Grice was home first in 10:09.46, just two-tenths away from her personal best.
Taking home a silver medal at the venue that played host to her Welsh record-setting run at the British Championships two months prior, Seary finished in a time of 10:29.01.
I really enjoyed it actually. It was quite a nice surprise, a couple of years ago it tipped it down and it was so difficult, but I guess you can't really complain about the weather in the steeplechase, you've just got to deal with it. Maisie Grice
Men's U20 800
As a guest in the junior 800 metres, Harry Fisher was part of a fast start alongside Jake Minshull, as the GB junior athlete attempted to lead from the off. The pair had a significant gap on the field coming through the bell, and Minshull looked strong down the back straight, kicking gently away from Fisher as the Blackheath and Bromley athlete looked to ease past him.
Tucking back behind Minshull on the bend, and with the rest of the field gradually bringing the pair back, Fisher kicked hard for home as they rounded into the straight, with Minshull finally paying for his fast start, fading in the final 40 metres to allow Fisher to come home in a winning time of 1:51.09.
Men's 3000 Steeplechase
Battershill looked comfortable throughout, leading the field after an early split, and then racing solo from the four-minute mark, as early pacesetter Ben Thomas faded and eventually failed to finish. The England representative maintained a healthy lead to the bell before finally kicking for home, taking a shade over 10 seconds from his previous best set at the same track for a time of 8:32.92 (under the 8:35.00 Commonwealth standard). Bridger finished the junior match in third place and a time of 9:41.70.
Really happy with that, today was all about the time... My friend on the team could pace me through three laps, and then I had to push it from there. Conditions weren't ideal, but I knew I had that kind of a run in me and I think that's a Commonwealth qualifying time, so really happy. Will Battershill
Men's U20 4x400 Relay
Not content with his win in the 800 metres earlier in the day, Harry Fisher anchored a guest 4x400 quartet home in the junior men's race, splitting a 50.4L to finish in 3:19.33.
In a race that was run at a relaxed pace up to and beyond the halfway point, Sabrina Sinha led a group of three athletes through the bell, before unfortunately losing out in the final sprint for home.
The Cambridge Harrier finished third behind the experienced pairing of Lucy Robinson, who had beaten her to the English title the month prior, and Jenny Nesbitt, who was making a rare step down in distance for the Welsh team. A fast finish somewhat masked the pedestrian opening, finishing in a time of 4:24.10.
Final race of the day with BUAC involvement was the men's equivalent shortly after Sinha's race, with both an in-form Joe Tuffin and incoming master's student John Howorth (R), the latter representing an England team who had all but confirmed their team victory by that point in the day.
Running in BUAC colours, it was Tuffin who lead the athletes through the finish line for the first time, second time, and the bell, as all those involved decided to wait until 400 metres remained before opening up their legs.
In an impressive display of frontrunning, Tuffin still held the lead with 150 metres to go, though perhaps not by choice. The Rushcliffe athlete was passed in the home straight, but held on for a time of 4:01.46.
One of those who passed Tuffin on that home straight was Howorth, the pain etched on his face as the England man stretched for home out in lane 3, winning a silver for the team in white as he finished in 4:00.29.
Full results can be found here.
The England Athletics writeup can be found here.
Elsewhere on the day, BUAC alumnus Imran Rahman ran twice over 100 metres at Lee Valley, producing a PB of 10.32, and a new windy best of 10.27w. The times took him inside the UK Top 100 all-time, breaking a personal best of 10.39 set in 2015 which still stands as a club record.
Full results are available here.